Joel Shapiro at Pace London
Pace London presents its first exhibition of works by Joel Shapiro, on view to 17 June 2017. The spectacular show features an installation of seven vibrant, volumetric sculptures and a selection of recent works on paper.
These seven sculptures, many of which were first exhibited at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, in May 2016, continue Shapiro’s longstanding investigation of anthropomorphic and architectonic form while challenging the viewer’s sense of balance and scale. Re-configured specifically for Pace London – some placed directly on the floor, others tethered by cordage from the walls and ceiling – many of these recent works appear weightless in space, their forms seemingly relieved of mass and gravity, a sense further emphasized by their hollow construction with 3mm plywood. The juxtaposition of suspended and freestanding volumes in a single work, as well as the introduction of more suggestive, referential forms, represents a new direction in Shapiro’s experimentation with dissociated systems that commenced around 2002, when he began to disassemble more coherent structures into a series of wood and wire works that he hung from the walls and ceiling of his studio. These earlier discrete works, which were featured in an exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York, in 2005, subsequently evolved into room-sized installations of suspended, rectilinear elements that he exhibited at Pace Gallery, New York (2010), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2011), and Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2012), among other institutions.
In the catalogue to his 1982 exhibition curated by Richard Marshall at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Shapiro evokes colour as a potent force: “The idea of thinking in color always interested me. If you are a sculptor and you use color, the color has to mean something, do something to change your perception of the piece. Cobalt violet obfuscates form and blue withdraws. Cadmium red and black both add density.” The current installation, which the artist has refered to as a kind of dreamscape, continues this investigation into the dynamics of form and color and extends further his attempt to conjur in the viewer an array of psychological and perceptual associations.